News: Fort Leonard Wood-based 4th MEB Soldiers Observe, Control, Train others for domestic disaster response
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – Ten soldiers assigned to the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade helped train the next iteration of U.S. soldiers assigned to a domestic disaster response mission during a U.S. Army North-led training exercise earlier this month.
Fort Leonard Wood-based soldiers joined more than 9,000 federal, state, and local military and government responders who participated in the three-week exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and 10 additional training areas throughout southern Indiana and Kentucky.
The annual exercise is used by U.S. Northern Command to validate the response capabilities of dozens of military units throughout the U.S. assigned to provide homeland response support. Part of those forces tested include the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Force, a 5,2000-strong federal military team of responders that include a variety of life-saving and life-sustaining support in the wake of a catastrophic disaster.
The task of the 4th MEB soldiers during Vibrant Response? Mentor and train the Fort Polk, La.-based 1st MEB, who have spent a year on the Response Force and will remain on mission another year. Still, the 4th MEB was assigned to the Response Force for two years, until they were relieved by the 1st MEB last October in a formal transfer of authority ceremony.
During that two-year stint, 4th MEB conducted more than 40 exercises nationwide including two command post exercises at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and two mission readiness exercises at Camp Atterbury, Ind., while directing more than 25 subordinate units from all branches of the military, including the Marine Corps’ Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force and the Air Force Radiation Assessment Team.
“The brigade was selected to perform the critical task of mentoring the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade as they operated mission command of Task Force Operations because we are pretty much the best when it comes to consequence management,” said Maj. Hector Montemayor, 4th MEB chief of operations. “Our brigade was established in 2008 and we have been practicing this as a core mission ever since.”
According to the official JTF-CS website, the DCRF is comprised of approximately 5,200 service members, Department of Defense contractors and civil law authorities that train to respond to a national disaster requiring a federal response.
Maneuver Enhancement Brigades provide several of the capabilities required in this response.
As mission command of Task Force Operations, 1st MEB is outfitted with military police, engineering assets and CBRN decontamination equipment.
“We take this mission very seriously,” said Col. Brett A. Van Camp, commander of the 1st MEB.
“If there is an incident within the U.S. that overwhelms first responders and the National Guard, we need to be prepared in the event that the President decides to activate this vital asset,” he said.
Task Force Operations welcomed the opportunity to train with the 4th MEB team and to learn from their years of expertise, said Van Camp.
The team was comprised of soldiers specializing in current operations, engineering, military police, air defense, military intelligence, medical, logistics, signal and plans.
“Our job was to observe the systems and processes incorporated by the 1st MEB and provide our expertise into controlling and training them to do their very best,” said Heintzelman. “We want to ensure the success of any responder who might have to face the fallout of an attack on the American people.”
Heintzelman said that while the training exercise may have benefitted the current response force, it will also provide a substantial foundation of response processes, systems and practices for future units assigned to the DCRF mission.
In turn, proven response plans that equate to time spent on immediate life-saving actions instead of on scene coordination with other responders, according to officials at the Joint Task Force – Civil Support, the Fort Eustis, Va.-based command and control headquarters for the Response Force.
“We’ve made huge strides in coordinating with our community partners and synchronizing together,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeff W. Mathis III, commander of JTF-CS. “…otherwise, we wouldn’t be very effective. I’ve talked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency about exercise operations and our coordination will just continue to get better.”
Likewise, the key to saving lives following a catastrophic disaster is collaboration and synchronization of federal, state and local responders before a terrorist attack, chemical spill or other CBRN disaster strikes, said Mathis.
Commanders receive disposition orders from U.S. Forces Command one year prior to assuming the domestic response mission to further solidify unit preparedness, said Heintzelman.
“Vibrant Response is just one way to prepare for a homeland response mission,” he said. “ It exercises the movements and test the ability of a unit to communicate across the full electro-spectrum [FM, HF, satellite and digital] but ultimately these skills are required for any mission that we may do,” he said.
Heintzelman said that soldiers of the 4th MEB are scheduled to conduct a Command Post Exercise this October as they prepare for the possibility of being assigned to the DCRF mission in 2014.
"Regardless of what mission big Army has in store for us, I am confident that, with the training we have in store, we will be an incredible force multiplying asset to any team," said Heintzelman.
The 4th MEB was established in October 2008 and has deployed several units in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The 4th MEB was also assigned as Task Force Operations’ mission command to the CBRN Consequence Management Response Force from 2009 to 2011.
Task Force Operations capabilities include experts and resources for chemical detection, engineering, and search and rescue. The Task Force is equipped to conduct initial rapid response missions including casualty search and rescue, patient decontamination, incident site surveying, monitoring, and marking, and mortuary affairs, as well as air and ground transportation support, engineer support and logistics sustainment.
This work, Fort Leonard Wood-based 4th MEB Soldiers Observe, Control, Train others for domestic disaster response, by SSG Heather Denby, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.
Date Posted:08.28.2012 18:47
Location:FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO, US
Hometown:SAN MARCOS, TX, US
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